Thrive Agric CEO Uka Eje has stepped down. Adia Sowho, former Managing Director - Nigeria for Migo (formerly Mines.io), has been appointed as the interim CEO.
Since March 2020, Thrive Agric — a leading agritech startup in Nigeria — has had difficulties in meeting up with its financial obligations to customers. The challenges have led to many of its customers voicing out on social media, accusing the company of fraud.
While the exact amount Thrive Agric owes its subscribers is unknown, it is estimated to be up to ₦50 million.
If Thrive Agric shuts down because of 50M naira it will be a collective stain on our start up ecosystem.— Edmund Olotu of the small Bag (@pyjama_ceo) October 8, 2020
I’d be willing to listen in on a virtual meeting to discuss their challenges with other minds and to proffer solutions that may lead to a resolution with their customers 🤷🏾♂️
Announcing the organisational changes, Thrive Agric said Adia Sowho is here to guide the company through a turnaround exercise so that it can survive the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its business.
Adia has a lot of experience with building businesses from the ground up and shaping them to operate at scale, according to the statement released by Thrive Agric. She has successfully designed, built and scaled tech-driven companies in emerging markets, delivering over $100 million businesses.
Prior to serving as the VP of Growth and MD - Nigeria of Migo, she was the Director of Digital Business at 9mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria). At 9mobile, Adia was responsible for partnering with startups to deliver mobile content, advertising, financial and API services.
Uka Eje will be stepping down as Thrive Agric's CEO to assume the position of COO. Speaking of Adia, Uka said, "I asked her to support us, recognizing that she has the required expertise to move us past this period successfully".
In addition to the attendant duties of the COO position, Uka said he will also be understudying Adia.
Thrive Agric has also appointed a CFO who comes with significant experience in finance. "We sorely need this experience as Thrive Agric is financing the agricultural value chain and we need to deepen our capabilities in that area", the agritech company said.
"We have also recognized from this episode, that we did not have strong enough protection against risk. As such, we have hired an experienced hand to head Risk Management. We have also gotten additional legal representation, to better protect us and more efficiently manage our commercial agreements such that Thrive Agric is less exposed to poor business relationships and counterparty risks".
Amidst all these, Thrive Agric said it has been engaging with various regulatory bodies to ensure that it aligns as expected.
We hope that with these improvements across the organization, we are better prepared to weather this storm and emerge stronger than ever.
These organisational changes are part of efforts by Thrive Agric's investors, notably Ventures Platform, to salvage the situation.
In addition to organisational changes, Ventures Platform said it has taken some important strategic steps with the Thrive Agric management team. These steps include:
- Engaging actively with the founders to develop and implement a step-by-step plan to get the company back on track;
- Ordering a thorough review of the company’s financial and non-financial operations to fully understand the scale of the problem;
- Providing bridge debt to help liquidate some of the outstanding to subscribers.